CLEVELAND — The days of Black Friday mega-bargains may be behind us as stores are offering great deals year-round to compete with Amazon. It's become more of a family affair to get in the holiday spirit. 

If you are going to brave the crowds, you should still go in prepared. That way if you see something tempting, you'll make the most of your money.

As the song goes, it’s the most wonderful time of the year. But for many of us, it’s also the most stressful…with the pressure to buy and not miss those supposed steals.

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But are the deals really that great?

Michael Bonebright of Deal News, a comparison shopping website, says, "We are seeing really landmark low prices on a big screen TVs, specifically at Target and Best Buy and Walmart.

For the most part though, you can score decent deals nearly every day as retailers try to compete with Amazon.

Unless, of course, you get up before the crack of dawn.

"If you are interested in buying the Doorbusters, you have to get in line as early as possible, because they usually only have 20 to 25 items to give away to people", says Bonebright.

In fact, our experts say there's a better day to shop than Black Friday.

“You want to show up on Thanksgiving 100% all day. From the time you wake up to the time you go to bed, Thanksgiving prices will be fantastic. You'll see all of your Doorbusters at Best Buy and Walmart, and most of the Doorbusters from Target."

But if you’re like most of the shoppers we spoke with, it’s all about the experience.

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Now, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t prepare. We met with a self proclaimed Shopaholic AND Money Coach at Great Northern Mall in North Olmsted.

“Go through the ads, go pick out what you're going to buy for every person ahead of time and have a backup item. Because sometimes you get there and everything's sold out that you wanted, so you have a backup. Know which stores you want to go to, to kind of have a plan of attack. Like are they close to each other?” says Amy Schultz, financial expert from SmartGirlMoney.

Also, make sure a deal is really a deal. Because this season, those new tariffs are impacting prices.

“That's actually what we do at Deal Days, is we track these prices over a long period of time so that we know this is the best price ever, not just the best price on this day," says Bonebright.

And pay attention to return policies.

Schultz warns, “Sometimes with Doorbusters the return policy is different. You have to kind of read the fine print. If it's an ad that you're looking at, it might say that you have within a specific amount of days to return."

Don't forget to research any product you are thinking of buying first. There are plenty of consumer sites which offer reviews.  Because if you buy a lousy product, it won't matter how cheap it is if it doesn't last. 

Check out more of our Black Friday coverage by clicking on our special section here.